MCNAIR v. CAMDEN COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY et al
OPINION. Signed by Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 2/8/2017. (dmr)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
WARDEN JAMES OWENS,
CAMDEN COUNTY BOARD
OF FREEHOLDERS, and
METRO POLICE DEPARTMENT,
Jamir McNair, Plaintiff Pro Se
1513 Thorn Street
Camden, NJ 08104
SIMANDLE, Chief District Judge:
Plaintiff Jamir McNair seeks to bring a civil rights
complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Camden County
Correctional Facility (“CCCF”), Warden James Owens (“Owens”),
Metro Police Department (“MPD”), and Camden County Board of
Freeholders (“BOF”) for allegedly unconstitutional conditions of
confinement. Complaint, Docket Entry 1.
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) requires courts to review
complaints prior to service in cases in which a plaintiff is
proceeding in forma pauperis. Courts must sua sponte dismiss any
claim that is frivolous, is malicious, fails to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from
a defendant who is immune from such relief. This action is
subject to sua sponte screening for dismissal under 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B) because Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis.
For the reasons set forth below, the Court will: (1)
dismiss the Complaint with prejudice as to claims made against
CCCF, BOF, MPD, and Owens; and (2) dismiss the Complaint without
prejudice for failure to state a claim. 28 U.S.C. §
First, the Complaint must be dismissed with prejudice
as to claims made against CCCF because it is not a “state actor”
within the meaning of § 1983. See Crawford v. McMillian, 660 F.
App’x 113, 116 (3d Cir. Oct. 21, 2016) (“[T]he prison is not an
entity subject to suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.”) (citing Fischer
v. Cahill, 474 F.2d 991, 992 (3d Cir. 1973)); Grabow v. Southern
State Corr. Facility, 726 F. Supp. 537, 538–39 (D.N.J. 1989)
(correctional facility is not a “person” under § 1983).
Second, the Complaint must be dismissed with prejudice
as to claims made against BOF because it is not a legal entity
separate from Camden County and is therefore not independently
subject to suit. See Bermudez v. Essex Cty. D.O.C., No. 12-6035,
2013 WL 1405263, at *5 (D.N.J. Apr. 4, 2013) (citing cases).
“There is no respondeat superior theory of municipal liability,
so a city may not be held vicariously liable under § 1983 for
the actions of its agents. Rather, a municipality may be held
liable only if its policy or custom is the ‘moving force’ behind
a constitutional violation.” Sanford v. Stiles, 456 F.3d 298,
314 (3d Cir. 2006) (citing Monell v. N.Y.C. Dep't of Social
Services, 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978)). See also Collins v. City of
Harker Heights, 503 U.S. 115, 122 (1992) (“The city is not
vicariously liable under § 1983 for the constitutional torts of
its agents: It is only liable when it can be fairly said that
the city itself is the wrongdoer.”). A Complaint must plead
facts showing that the relevant Camden County policy-makers are
“responsible for either the affirmative proclamation of a policy
or acquiescence in a well-settled custom.” Bielevicz v. Dubinon,
915 F.2d 845, 850 (3d Cir. 1990).1 In other words, Plaintiff must
set forth facts supporting an inference that Camden County
itself was the “moving force” behind the alleged constitutional
violation. Monell, 436 U.S. at 689.
Third, construing the Complaint to assert claims
against Camden County Police (Complaint at 1 (naming “Metro
“Policy is made when a decisionmaker possess[ing] final
authority to establish municipal policy with respect to the
action issues an official proclamation, policy, or edict.
Government custom can be demonstrated by showing that a given
course of conduct, although not specifically endorsed or
authorized by law, is so well-settled and permanent as virtually
to constitute law.” Kirkland v. DiLeo, 581 F. App'x 111, 118 (3d
Cir. 2014) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted)
(alteration in original).
Police Department” as a defendant)), the Complaint must
similarly be dismissed with prejudice as to claims made against
MPD. “[A] city police department is a governmental sub-unit that
is not distinct from the municipality of which it is a part.”
Jackson v. City of Erie Police Dep't, 570 F. Appx. 112, 114 n.2
(3d Cir. 2014) (citing Monell, 436 U.S. at 694). Camden County
Police (i.e., “Metro Police Department”) are not distinct from
Camden County, and the Complaint asserts no facts alleging that
Camden County was the “moving force” behind an alleged
constitutional violation. Monell, 436 U.S. at 689.
Fourth, the Complaint must be dismissed with prejudice
as to claims made against Owens because the Complaint does
“[not] allege any personal involvement by [the warden] in any
constitutional violation – a fatal flaw, since ‘liability in a §
1983 suit cannot be predicated solely on the operation of
respondeat superior.’” Baker v. Flagg, 439 F. App’x 82, 84 (3d
Cir. 2011) (citing Rode v. Dellarciprete, 845 F.2d 1195, 1207
(3d Cir. 1988)). “[Plaintiff’s] complaint contains no
allegations regarding [the] Warden. ‘Because vicarious liability
is inapplicable to § 1983 suits, a plaintiff must plead that
each Government-official defendant, through the official's own
individual actions, has violated the Constitution.’ Thus,
[plaintiff] failed to state a claim against [the] Warden.” Bob
v. Kuo, 387 F. App’x 134, 136 (3d Cir. 2010) (citing Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676 (2009)).
claims against Owens must be dismissed with prejudice.
Finally, for the reasons set forth below, the Court
will dismiss the Complaint without prejudice for failure to
state a claim. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b)(ii).
The present Complaint does not allege sufficient facts
to support a reasonable inference that a constitutional
violation has occurred in order to survive this Court’s review
under § 1915. Even accepting the statements in Plaintiff’s
Complaint as true for screening purposes only, there is not
enough factual support for the Court to infer a constitutional
violation has occurred.
To survive sua sponte screening for failure to state a
claim2, the Complaint must allege “sufficient factual matter” to
show that the claim is facially plausible. Fowler v. UPMS
Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009) (citation omitted).
“A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads
“The legal standard for dismissing a complaint for failure to
state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is the
same as that for dismissing a complaint pursuant to Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).” Samuels v. Health Dep’t, No. 161289, 2017 WL 26884, slip op. at *2 (D.N.J. Jan. 3, 2017)
(citing Schreane v. Seana, 506 F. App’x 120, 122 (3d Cir.
2012)); Allah v. Seiverling, 229 F.3d 220, 223 (3d Cir. 2000));
Mitchell v. Beard, 492 F. App’x 230, 232 (3d Cir. 2012)
(discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1)); Courteau v. United States,
287 F. App’x 159, 162 (3d Cir. 2008) (discussing 28 U.S.C. §
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Fair Wind Sailing, Inc. v. Dempster, 764 F.3d 303, 308
n.3 (3d Cir. 2014). “[A] pleading that offers ‘labels or
conclusions’ or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a
cause of action will not do.’” Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 678 (2009)
(quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007)). Moreover, while pro se pleadings are liberally
construed, “pro se litigants still must allege sufficient facts
in their complaints to support a claim.” Mala v. Crown Bay
Marina, Inc., 704 F.3d 239, 245 (3d Cir. 2013) (citation
omitted) (emphasis added).
With respect to alleged facts giving rise to his
claims, Plaintiff states: “The housing officer assigned me to a
cell knowing it [had] 4 other inmates in their [sic] with urine
on the floor and species [sic] on the floor.” Complaint §
Plaintiff states that the purported events giving rise
to these claims occurred “on or around Jan 12, 2014, 2015,
2016[.]” Id. § III(B).
With respect to alleged injuries from these events,
Plaintiff states: “No serious injuries just a few bumps for
hitting on the table and fallen [sic] over another inmate and
hitting my head on table. No treatment was administered to me[,]
just Advil.” Id. § IV.
Plaintiff seeks $1.1 million in relief. Id. § V.
These claims must be dismissed because the Complaint
does not set forth enough factual support for the Court to infer
that a constitutional violation has occurred.
The mere fact that an individual is lodged temporarily
in a cell with more persons than its intended design does not
rise to the level of a constitutional violation. See Rhodes v.
Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 348–50 (1981) (holding double-celling by
itself did not violate Eighth Amendment); Carson v. Mulvihill,
488 F. App'x 554, 560 (3d Cir. 2012) (“[M]ere double-bunking
does not constitute punishment, because there is no ‘one man,
one cell principle lurking in the Due Process Clause of the
Fifth Amendment.’” (quoting Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 542
(1979))). More is needed to demonstrate that such crowded
conditions, for a pretrial detainee, shocks the conscience and
thus violates due process rights. See Hubbard v. Taylor, 538
F.3d 229, 233 (3d Cir. 2008) (noting due process analysis
requires courts to consider whether the totality of the
conditions “cause[s] inmates to endure such genuine privations
and hardship over an extended period of time, that the adverse
conditions become excessive in relation to the purposes assigned
to them.”). Some relevant factors are the length of the
confinement(s), whether plaintiff was a pretrial detainee or
convicted prisoner, any specific individuals who were involved
in creating or failing to remedy the conditions of confinement,
any other relevant facts regarding the conditions of
Furthermore, there are also not enough facts for the
Court to infer Plaintiff was denied adequate medical care. In
order to set forth a cognizable claim for violation of his right
to adequate medical care, an inmate must allege: (1) a serious
medical need; and (2) behavior on the part of prison officials
that constitutes deliberate indifference to that need. See
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976); Natale v. Camden
Cnty. Corr. Facility, 318 F.3d 575, 582 (3d Cir. 2003). A mere
assertion that Plaintiff received only Advil for sustaining “a
few bumps” (Complaint § IV) is insufficient to meet the pleading
standard in the absence of any facts. If Plaintiff wishes to
pursue this claim, Plaintiff should provide facts supporting
both of the requirements in any amended complaint.
Plaintiff may be able to amend the Complaint to
particularly identify adverse conditions that were caused by
specific state actors, that caused Plaintiff to endure genuine
privations and hardship over an extended period of time, and
that were excessive in relation to their purposes. To that end,
the Court shall grant Plaintiff leave to amend the Complaint
within 30 days of the date of this order.3
Plaintiff is further advised that any amended
complaint must plead specific facts regarding the conditions of
confinement. In the event Plaintiff files an amended complaint,
Plaintiff must plead sufficient facts to support a reasonable
inference that a constitutional violation has occurred in order
to survive this Court’s review under § 1915.
Plaintiff should note that when an amended complaint
is filed, the original complaint no longer performs any function
in the case and cannot be utilized to cure defects in the
amended complaint, unless the relevant portion is specifically
incorporated in the new complaint. 6 Wright, Miller & Kane,
Federal Practice and Procedure 1476 (2d ed. 1990) (footnotes
omitted). An amended complaint may adopt some or all of the
allegations in the original complaint, but the identification of
the particular allegations to be adopted must be clear and
explicit. Id. To avoid confusion, the safer course is to file an
amended complaint that is complete in itself. Id. The amended
complaint may not adopt or repeat claims that have been
dismissed with prejudice by the Court.
The amended complaint shall be subject to screening prior to
For the reasons stated above, the Complaint is: (a)
dismissed with prejudice as to the CCCF, Owens, Metro Police
Department, and BOF; and (b) dismissed without prejudice for
failure to state a claim. An appropriate order follows.
February 8, 2017
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
Chief U.S. District Judge
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